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Combined Science Access to Higher Education Advanced (Level 3)

This Access to Science Diploma is a one year Level 3 intensive course aimed at mature students (19+) without the standard qualifications to enter higher education. It provides you with the opportunity to study a Level 3 qualification, on a full-time basis, leading to progression on to a higher education qualification. You will focus on developing core skills in maths and research and increase your knowledge of science.


I’d always been interested in physiotherapy but when I first came to the UK from Latvia I didn’t feel confident enough to study it at university and chose to read Sports Therapy instead. I got a job working as a porter at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and then progressed on to be a physiotherapy assistant on the stroke unit. After three years I applied to university again to study Physiotherapy, but because I had been out of education for a few years, they suggested I should take a course beforehand to refresh my skills.

Although I didn’t feel I needed it academically, the Access course brought so many extra opportunities, plus the nourishing atmosphere has made me feel I can now strive for a first class degree when I start at the University of Hertfordshire in September.

I really enjoyed writing my final project, which I chose to do on how stroke guidelines compare across different countries and I’m looking forward to taking this further in my final dissertation at university. Once I have graduated I aim to specialise in stroke rehabilitation.

I also enjoyed the microbiology unit as the equipment in the labs at College is really good, and I jumped at the chance to take my English and maths GCSEs for free. My maths tutor even spent extra time helping a few of us prepare for the higher maths paper. All of the tutors here have made me feel as though I can do so much more; their passion really spurs you on to succeed.

Anna - Access to Combined Sciences

Entry requirements

You must be aged 19 or over to apply and will need to have English Language and maths GCSE at grade 4 (GCSE Grade C) or above or equivalent Level 2 qualifications. Applicants may be accepted on the Access Diploma with one of these, subject to a successful interview and entry test to show you are working at level 2. You will have to gain the other level 2 during the same year to progress to university. If your first language is not English will need an IELTS score of 5.5 or higher.

You will also need to have good IT skills as all of your assignments will be carried out using either Word, Excel or PowerPoint. You can undertake IT Skills classes at our Learning Centres.

It is very important to research the entry criteria of the universities you would like to apply to. You will need a minimum of GCSE English and maths, in addition to your Access qualification, for entry onto degree-level courses. We currently offer GCSE and Functional Skills which you may be able to enrol on alongside your Access course to gain these qualifications. Many university courses can be very competitive and it’s important to understand and fulfil the entry requirements prior to applying.  

Course content

During the course you will study the following units:

Core units

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Research Project
  • Study Skills

You will also study these Combined Science units:

Biology units

  • Evolution and Ecology
  • Cells Tissues Organs
  • Digestion & The Liver
  • Homeostasis
  • Blood, Circulation
  • Disease and Body Defence
  • Microbiology   
  • Mendelian and Applied Genetics

Biology / Chemistry units

  • Biomolecules (Biochemistry)

Chemistry units

  • Energy
  • Drugs and Food Additives
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry
  • Periodic Table
  • Structure and Bonding

Physics unit

  • Optics and Waves

You will develop self confidence in your ability to learn and develop the necessary academic skills such as essay writing and research skills to prepare you for university.

You will be invited to progression events to higher education at college and at local universities.

Assessment methods

You will be regularly assessed through written, practical and oral assignments, project work and exams. To enable you to be successful on the course you will need to be able to use IT to produce essays, reports, presentations and statistical data.


Access to HE Diploma Science

Further study and career options

On successful completion you can progress onto a degree-level course or further qualifications in your chosen specialist area, such as: physiotherapy, pharmacy, paramedics, radiography, biomedical science, environmental science, nutrition, biology, podiatry, or zoology, among others.

Additional information

You will be required to attend College for two days a week on a Tuesday and Friday. The proposed times of the College day will 9.15am to 4.45pm. You will also be expected to study for approximately 15 hours a week outside of college some of which will be online learning. You may need to purchase books relating to the course.

Please declare if you have English and maths GCSEs and/or Functional Skills qualifications – this information is required (note: you will need to provide evidence prior to enrolment). Once we’ve processed your application you will be contacted by email.

Pay by instalments

The College offers an instalment plan for Further Education and Higher Education courses to students where the total amount payable at the point of enrolment is £200 or more. Within the scheme there is an ability to pay up to 6 instalments, depending on the length of the courses and the final payment must be paid at least a month before the end of the course.

Funding information

If you are aged 19 or over, you may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan to help you pay the tuition fees for this course. Alternatively, you can pay by instalments to help make the cost more affordable. Find out more about your payment options at

If you complete one of our Access to Higher Education courses and use an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for your tuition fee, the Student Loans Company will write off the balance on the Advanced Learner Loan if you then go on to complete an undergraduate course.

18 year olds may apply and will need to have English Language and Maths GCSE at grade C (4) or above or equivalent level 2 qualifications before the start of the course and be subject to a successful interview. Successful applicants will be in college for 2 days per week and will also be required to undertake additional studies up to 50 hours (which will support in providing valuable experience to include in UCAS applications aiding progression to Higher Education). If you are successful you may qualify for a free place. Alternatively we offer Level 2 and Level 3 courses that may be funded for 16-18 year olds.

Course Information & How to Apply

To apply online, select the 'Apply' button below. You will need to register an account and then you can follow the instructions on screen.

LengthStart DateFeesLocationCourse Code
1 year 13/09/2021 Launch our fee calculatorLaunch our fee calculator Cauldwell Street BBK2290

Apply Online

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Additional Learning Support
If you have a specific learning difficulty or disability, are deaf or hearing impaired, our Additional Learning Support team are on hand to give you assistance whenever you need it.  Find out more.

Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Support
At Bedford College, we are committed to developing the provision for students on the autistic spectrum, including Asperger’s Syndrome.  Find out more.

We have access arrangements in place to help students with disabilities or any other particular needs. Call us on 01234 291000 for more information.

Additional formats
Course information sheets are also available in large print and audio formats. Call us on
01234 291000 to order your copy.

Don't let money be a worry! Low-interest loans - study now, pay later

Advanced Learner Loans
If you’re aged 19 or over on the start date of your chosen course, you can apply for a loan to cover the tuition fees for some Level 3+ qualifications. There’s also nothing to pay back until you’ve completed your course and you’re earning over £25,000 per year!

» Visit the Advanced Learner Loans page for more information